Try and book the most direct flight to your destination. Trust me, it is worth spending the extra money to book the quickest and most direct flight as opposed to having a long layover somewhere.
Depending on the airline, some lap children are free while others charge up to 10% of the cost of your ticket.
Call ahead to reserve a bassinet on board. There are height and weight requirements. Confirm this MULTIPLE times – with the ticket agent, again at the gate, and lastly with the airline attendant once you board. We almost didn’t have one for Atlas because the one they were going to use was broken. Fortunately, they were able to bring us another one from the first class cabin.
At the Airport:
Allow plenty of time to get through check-in and security. Everything with a baby takes three times as long, and you do not want to feel rushed.
Make sure your passports and all necessary documents are easily accessible. My husband wears all of our important documents in a pouch under his belt. It’s safe and easily available when needed.
Have your diaper bag and/or carryon organized. I purchased these pouches for our carryon and they were very helpful in keeping everything separate and organized. I try to avoid plastic bags altogether, but you can also keep some zip-loc bags on hand.
A lot of the information I read suggested wearing your baby throughout the airport, but we ended up leaving him in the stroller. We did, however, have our baby carrier on hand in case we needed to make a switch.
You are allowed to bring breastmilk and/or formula through security; however, the amounts are different for each country, so you’ll want to check in advance. We brought about 15 ounces on board for our flight to France. Depending on the airport, there seem to be different regulations governing liquid vs. frozen breastmilk. To err on the side of caution, I suggest brining mostly frozen milk that you can warm up under a faucet at the airport or that an airline attendant can warm for you.
If you are gate checking a stroller. I would recommend putting it in a stroller bag. It serves as protection for the stroller, and additionally they do not weigh the stroller bag, so we were able to stuff some additional items in it that would have pushed our checked luggage over the limit.
On the plane:
The age of your baby will determine what kind of toys you will need for the flight. We packed some of his favorite small toys from home and a couple of new toys. Of course he was most interested in touching and exploring everything on the plane, so we wiped down our entire area before letting him touch anything. Although not sustainable, the sanitizer wipes are a lifesaver when traveling.
Have your phone fully charged and ready with any fun games or videos. There was a backup of planes at takeoff, and we had to wait more than 20 minutes. My husband entertained our son the entire time with Instagram selfie filters.
I had read to bring plenty of diapers (which we did), but he didn’t end up using that many as he slept for much of the flight. Better to err on the safe side though.
I recommend brining plenty of food and snacks in case there is a delay. We had a long layover, and I was extremely grateful we had packed extra food and snacks.
Bring an extra set of clothes for baby and you. Messes are bound to happen, and you’ll feel better if you have additional clothing.
Some people will prepare goodie bags for passengers seated nearby as some sort of peace offering. While this is a nice gesture, I felt no need to do this. If anything, someone should be giving us a goodie bag for trying to keep an infant content on an international flight?! The most I did was flash a smile to the people seated next to us. You are NOT responsible for how people react to your baby. We are all adults.
Nurse or bottle feed during takeoff and landing. Atlas had a pretty rough cold the day we were leaving and I thought for sure his ears would bother him, but he did great.
Do NOT use the water in the bathroom to rinse bottles, pacifiers, etc. Ask the flight attendant for bottled water, or have these kind of wipes on hand.
Most international air carriers have changing tables in at least one of the bathrooms, but you’ll want to verify with flight attendant. I found it easier to change Atlas in the bathroom, but we could have also changed him on the floor.
My pediatrician gave us some solid advice regarding flying with a baby. He said, do not worry about the rest of the passengers. Many of them will be empathic, and the ones who are not, do not matter. Even if your baby has a total meltdown, you will likely never see these people again. I know I was most worried about what other people would think (and say) if Atlas was fussy for the flight. As moms, we feel an immense amount of pressure to be able to calm our babies. Fortunately my husband is one of the calmest and most collected people I know. Rarely is he rattled, and he really helped me to remain calm and composed. Babies can sense if you are anxious and stressed, so do your best to stay calm.
My advice is to expect the best, but plan for the worst. I thought we were going to have a tough flight because Atlas was battling his first cold, but he did great! So much so, that passengers kept telling us how impressed (read thankful) they were. If we can do it, so can you!